While working with a client last week, it became obvious that we are moving into the time to finalize 2017 budgets, compensation plans, and something most sales managers don’t take enough in developing – their 2017 Sales Kick Off meeting.

Already many larger organizations are booking their sales conferences for the first quarter where they will invite their sales teams, vendors, resellers/partners to hear plans to make 2017 the “best year ever”.  Keynote speakers, breakout sessions, new marketing plans and product demonstrations will all be coordinated to increase enthusiasm, salesperson belief, and excitement that the New Year will bring. I know this because I am already booked for five events already. However, just because larger organizations are planning their formal conferences, it doesn’t mean a smaller sales organization shouldn’t plan a Kick-Off event.

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A New Year sales kick-off meeting can be organized as an off-site/overnight 2-day program or as simply as a ¾ to a ½ day event. You should schedule them no later than mid-February, and many firms will hold a mid-year event as well. However, the basics of any sales kickoff event should include the following planning ideas (these ideas are not in order of priority):

  1. A theme for the New Year. This should be a positive statement of your major objectives and something that can be reinforced throughout the year. “Be Brilliant on the Basics”, “The Best and Brightest!” are only two examples. You should then determine how you will reinforce whatever theme you chose with a gift, or a banner, but make sure every speaker comments on the theme.
  2. Include time for sales training on sales skills and hand out a sales training book that will be your first quarter “must read”. You can use the book for extended sales training during your meetings. (Jill Konrath’s new book is hot: More Sales, Less Time ) HINT: Roll out your first quarter sales training plans at the same time.
  3. Announce a first quarter sales contest to help you get off to a fast start.
  4. Announce a 2017 yearly sales contest, this should be a big prize for exceeding the salesperson’s quota. Examples include a trip to a resort, a cruise, or a trip to an island.  Remember these kinds of incentive programs are not expenses, but paid out of incremental revenues/profits. Your announcement should include pictures of the location, etc. Again, you can tag other contests to this and reinforcement is important.  These kinds of games will increase your sales culture and drive performance. See my book: Creating High Performance Sales Compensation Plans, for ideas on sales contests.
  5. Describe and show your marketing plans for the first six months-at least. This will show the salespeople how your organization is planning to support the sales team.
  6. Schedule the President of your company to give a short message on his/her philosophy on sales and the culture of your organization. Keep management involved in the meeting both during the meeting and afterward during a social time.
  7. You may or may not announce your new compensation plan at this event, it all depends upon the degree of change you are making. With minor changes, it’s a great time, with major changes schedule a separate meeting. HINT: Do not roll out the new compensation plan as the last topic of the meeting, schedule it early in the afternoon, if your event is a full day meeting. In my book: Creating High Performance Sales Compensation Plans I cover an entire chapter on how to successful “roll out” a new plan.
  8. Make sure you make the meeting fun! As the sales leader, work on activities, games, ideas that create the right culture and teamwork.  You can find many ideas online.
  9. Spend time having each salesperson presents their “Business Plans” for the first half of the year. Based upon the number of salespeople, this can be done by breakouts into regions, smaller groups or as a single group. These business plans include not only forecasts, but personal commitments to activity levels and professional growth. If you need an idea of what a Salesperson’s Business Plan, send me an email.
  10. Bring in an outside speaker. This could include a customer telling their satisfaction with your firm, a sales trainer, or one with a motivational message that propels your team to excellence. Who.ever speaks must reinforce your objectives, your theme and be relevant to your team.

This is your time to bring a coordinated program that set’s the tone for the New Year. Make sure you take the time to do it right.

What additional ideas do you have to make your sales kick-off meeting special?  Let’s share.